The dangerous games politicians play with ‘identity’ and ‘diversity’ politics | Opinion

Deignan: It's naive to claim that the "unifying power of the American idea" has always been more powerful than "identity politics." (Photo illustration by Pixabay)
Deignan: It's naive to claim that the "unifying power of the American idea" has always been more powerful than "identity politics." (Photo illustration by Pixabay) When you get unabashed right-wingers like South Jersey Republican congressional candidate Seth Grossman and longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to agree with brainy philosophers like the New York Times' Kwame Anthony Appiah and bookish conservatives like the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, well, you know something is up.

All of these folks -- not to mention President Donald Trump -- have a real problem with "diversity," as well as its trouble-making offspring "identity politics."

Earlier this year, Grossman -- whose candidacy has since lost the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- was roundly condemned for declaring: "The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American."

Grossman may be inarticulate, but he's not alone.

Mac Donald has just published the unsubtly titled book "The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture" (St. Martin's Press), in which she blasts college faculty members, including a College of New Jersey sociologist, for coddling female and minority students.

When you get unabashed right-wingers like South Jersey Republican congressional candidate Seth Grossman and longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to agree with brainy philosophers like the New York Times' Kwame Anthony Appiah and bookish conservatives like the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, well, you know something is up.

All of these folks -- not to mention President Donald Trump -- have a real problem with "diversity," as well as its trouble-making offspring "identity politics."

Earlier this year, Grossman -- whose candidacy has since lost the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- was roundly condemned for declaring: "The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American."

Grossman may be inarticulate, but he's not alone.

Mac Donald has just published the unsubtly titled book "The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture" (St. Martin's Press), in which she blasts college faculty members, including a College of New Jersey sociologist, for coddling female and minority students.

All of this goes a long way toward undermining Hatch's naive claim that the "unifying power of the American idea" has always been more powerful than "identity politics."

In fact, one way to think about historian -- and New Jersey resident -- Terry Golway's new book, "Frank & Al" (St. Martin's Press), is that the "diversity" and "identity politics" of the urban ethnic political machines led by New York's Al Smith spurred a coalition with old-time WASPs like Franklin Roosevelt, which helped guide Americans through the trauma of the Great Depression.

Of course, there are people for whom "diversity" and "identity politics" have become both silly games and big business. But at least acknowledge that there have been far more painful pre-existing conditions within the American body politic.

Tom Deignan, a contributor to the recent book "Nine Irish Lives" (Algonquin), contributes regularly to The Star-Ledger. He lives in Woodbridge.


SOURCE https://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/10/games_politicians_play_with_identity_and_diversity.html
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